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eight words.

i was walking across the park two mornings ago. the air warm, sticky--battling off fall's advance.

i shuffled along the cobblestones lining central park south lost in thought--lost in a mess of thoughts, a tangle of half-formed, ill-informed notions, no one clear or strong. and i was swimming. taking laps in the discomfort of it all when one surfaced, thrummed up and through. came out before i even knew what was what was happening.

clear as day and eight words.

it was a prayer.

God, grant me the courage to be happy. 

and from my body there went a little bit of air. oh. so that's my great wish. the courage to be happy. 

i didn't pray for happiness, didn't ask for the thing itself. my plea was for the courage.

the courage to pursue happiness.

sadness is known territory. it is a settling back on one's heel. it is a falling inward that comes naturally and takes little to no work. that's not entirely true, it takes a great deal of work, but the work is easy and deceptively alluring.

happiness, well, happiness demands that i be bold. demands that i say yes (most especially when i don't want to). it demands that i value myself enough to feel worthy of happiness.

ay, there's the rub. there's the tricky, unsettling part: it demands that i value myself enough to feel worthy of happiness. why is that so hard, to say, i am worth fighting for? this good thing, it's okay that i want it. and it's okay that i might get it. 

the prayer, that monday morning prayer, was an answer, an affirmation in and of itself. it was illumination.

the courage to be happy. fight for happiness.

but in riding the train home last night, clinging to my little prayer, there came a bit more.

relax into it.

fight for happiness. be bold. say yes. and then relax into it. ride the wave. recognize that this thing you think is terrifying might actually be thrilling. and you'll look back in ten years and wonder where that feeling went--that one that you're fighting so hard against right now--and you'll find yourself praying for a way to get it back. imagine that. so enjoy it. live in it. revel in the unknown and uncertain and the delicious discomfort of it.

and know that you're worth it.

(post script: know that in reading this over i started to cry. and i'm not entirely sure why. perhaps because as true as i know this all to be, there are moments where it is so very hard. to fight and not know and not understand why what's happening is happening. life is hard, you know?).


ellabelle said...

This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

{It made me a little teary too.}

Here's to courage, and to happiness.

JuJu said...

Meg, this is amazing.
I feel like life is hard at the moment as well. I feel like i struggle more than actually enjoy it right now.
Your writing gives me the courage to be happy, to live my life the way i want to and that i deserve to feel good about my life/decisions and myself.
I, too, am worthy of happiness. It should be a normal thing in life, so why do i feel like i'm not worthy?

your post made me cry, because i can relate so much to it.

I hope you find the courage to be happy and content with your life and decisions
Thank you. JuJu

Alivia said...

Thank you for being you, and for helping me to be a better me. And I'm with ellabelle-- I got a bit teary, too.

becky said...

Oosh. This is beautiful--and so, unashamedly relate-able. I don't know how you do it, but you do it well. And you made me cry a little, too.

Ramona said...

oh Meg, beautiful sweet dear Meg - your words, well they always resonate with me - so deeply<3 I think you should write a book, compile this blog into physical pages. I would love to hold it in my hands and thumb through the pages of your heart. You are so brilliant. Thank you for sharing with us all.

Laura Marie said...

As I read, I found myself saying aloud: "Oh. Oh." Just over and over again, "Oh," as if this post were just one long revelation.

Which, I suppose, it was.

Oh, Meg, how I adore you so. And ohohoh how I hope to go to New York again and visit you! Perhaps in the spring? In conjunction with our Paris trip? :)

Leslie said...

i really appreciated your honesty with this. something i've been thinking about recently is Christ's command to "Be of Good Cheer" or "Be Comforted." It takes a ton of courage to make a "be" verb become an action verb. And i think you hit the nail on the head. It takes courage to make this happen.

emilia. said...

Have you read "The War of Art"?

Amy said...

What a lovely post. I hope you find the courage you're looking for!

Ryann said...

meg, have you heard of hillsong nyc? you should check them out. if i lived in nyc i would be there in a heartbeat. you can find them on twitter @hillsongnyc or at hillsongnyc.com.

{this isn't an advertisement! i have followed your blog for a while - and envy your ny life - and also following hillsong nyc and just think it would be fantastic if the two collided.}

Ashley said...

You are brave, Meg. Thanks for sharing your soul with the world.

I say just live... live like you mean it. happiness will come with that.

jorjiapeach said...

i'm going to let this resonate today: "it demands that i value myself enough to feel worth of happiness."

Elspeth H. said...

This was just what I needed to read today. Sadness is like an anchor on my heart, but you and I can both fight to be happy.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my very favorite poems, and your words are surprisingly similar. "The courage then to claim it." So beautiful.

Written on Christmas Eve, 1513

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much,
very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can
come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within
our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.
And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you
will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too,
be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering,
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all!
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together,
wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and
forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.

~ Fra Giovanni ~

Franziska said...

Thank you. Thank you for writing so eloquently and clearly what I am living right now.

Ashley and Patrick said...

And this did make me cry. This is absolutely beautiful, Meg. And just what I have been feeling lately, but haven't been able to articulate. I hope you don't mind if I quote a couple of lines on my blog? I will, of course, credit you and your lovely blog.

meg fee said...

@Ashley and Patrick, quote away!

@anonymous: such a lovely, lovely poem. thank you for sharing.

Kate said...

I've never really thought about it that way, but you're right. It's easier to wallow and be sad than to try and change it. I have a feeling this post will help me in the future when I sink down into sad.

Lara* said...

thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you. speak the words i cannot say!! thank you!

may our journey towards courage and the pursuit of happiness be a rewarding experience!!


Erin said...

I love this. I kinda blogged about it today on my blog, too. :) Although not so well put as your beautiful post!

The sentiment in this post really reminds me of a song by The Avett Brothers (they are aahhmazing) called "Tin Man." It's about missing the "feeling of feelings." I recommend it!! xoxo


Erin said...

perfection. i couldn't say it any better. :) thanks, meg.

Alex said...

Sadness might come a little easier to us sometimes, but in the end you deserve happiness. You, Meg, deserve it.

Toni said...

Beautiful. Tears of beauty. Thank you!

joojierose said...

this reminded me so much of the most gorgeous quote from the film version of "the hours":

"To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away."

aah! i've said that to myself countless times. watch the whole movie and better yet read the book if you never have. gorgeous.

The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

I just learned to pray for not what I know I need, but pray for what He knows I need. I'm not an incredibly religious person, but the peace that prayer has given me since I surrendered my problems to it, is immeasurable.

A Sunday Kind Of Love said...

life is super hard.
i usually pray not to end my trials (because after 8 years of a chronic illness i realized this wasn't working), but to help me deal with them, and help me pull through.
i always feel so much better after i pray, and even better when i would light a candle in the cathedral (back in CH, i always passed it on my way into town for groceries...and i miss it terribly).

Liz said...

I LOVE your writings. You have such an eloquent way of putting feelings into something substantial that I can grip onto. I am a Peace Corps volunteer and have about a million thoughts racing between my ears every minute. Everyday when I read your messages I relate. No matter what the topic I find fellowship and a sort of calm knowing someone has as heightened emotions as me. Thank you for choosing to blog, I hope you find everything you are looking for and more, you deserve it!

debbiecutieface said...

oh I can so relate to this. It's my favorite prayer and I say it all the time.

forward [e]motion said...

i've been thinking about this for a while - usually after i read your posts i think "yes! there is someone out there feeling and thinking these same things that i am feeling and thinking and how terribly lovely it is to not feel alone for a moment and how rich it is to see my feelings mapped out so eloquently in the way you do, meg."

but really, what's even more special is reading the comments from all these other brilliant women who are feeling this too and who take the same comfort from your words as i do. hurrah for every single one of you.

bel. xx

megan danielle said...

just so you know this post is an answer to my prayers lately. i desperately needed to hear this. im so glad i stumbled across your blog. thank you so much for your inspiring words. i wish i could hug you right now.

christine said...

Huzzah for your great courage in praying that prayer and writing this post. Fight for your happiness, because you truly do deserve it. Amazing things happen when you're happy. :)

Alisha said...

You are worth it. Every bit of it.

Praying that God grants you the courage.

Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

Lottie said...

I was here not too long ago, but I am trying to be positive like you, and be brave enough to try.

You will get there it just takes time and lots of positive thinking instead of the negative ones that seem to collect so quickly.

Ramona said...

Meg, right now I wish I had the perfect words to comfort you to tell you that everything will be ok. But I guess I just want to encourage you to keep going, to take each day as it comes. I think you are worth fighting for! And you should not settle for anything less. Yes, sometimes we go through times where that happiness seems to have gone and we feel like going through a valley of some sort but when we start climbing the mountains and even though it seems hard it is so worth it because once we have reached the top we can enjoy the most beautiful view. So, keep climbing, keep pursuing that joy and I believe God will give you not only the couarge to find joy but actual joy which comes right from the heart.

Michelle Kendrick Hartney said...

Yes indeed, ride the wave! You have a gift my friend. WORDS! My goodness what a gift you have. That combined with your sensitivity is a beautiful thing, so when it feels like that wave is about to make you topple over, don't forget this gift you have. It's your life jacket.

Barbara said...

to be a writer, a poet, a person of art, and to feel that ache for happiness is what bonds us to our art, but for the good. however, i have felt exact-to-the-word likeness of what you have described here. it is always something for someone else to exclaim "i am happy", and for one to feel jealous of that. but, i feel like someone who needs to be encouraged (albeit by themselves) to be happy, ends up appreciating it even more, since they had to remind themselves that it takes courage.
well written, again. :)

Caroline said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love your blog. I feel like you and I are fairly similar. I'm coming out of a 7 year relationship which didn't do anything to help my self-esteem and I'm terrified of any more change in my life right now. But Somewhere inside I also know that to settle with what I have is to sell myself short.

The courage to be happy. What a perfect thought.

Holly said...

I am speechless---that is so beautiful & so true. Thank you <3 :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. I just happened upon this post. I can't believe how well you express this need. It's hard. It's hard to make the effort to make myself happy. It's hard to want to be happy. Thank you.